Close readers of this blog may have noticed a hiatus in content for March. That’s because Paul and I have been off on a fabulous trip to South America. We were in the Peruvian Amazon, Peru’s Sacred Valley (including Machu Picchu), and the Galapagos Islands. The trip was a serendipitous opportunity that we thought we should take advantage of before the Parkinson’s gets worse
And how did Parkinson’s affect me? Not at all…symptoms were so mild, I am considering moving to the Equator! Now that I am back in the Far North, the right hand is tremoring away again. I have included with this blog posting what I call “neurologist shots” as proof that my balance and gait are still normal.
We were on a tour of 16 older (50+) adults, and the interesting observation is that three of us had movement disorders: in addition to my Parkinson’s, one traveler had ataxia and another had essential tremors.
Ataxia is a disorder affecting balance, coordination, and gait; it can also be a symptom of Parkinson’s. For my fellow traveler, it tended to affect her ability to walk in a straight line, and to walk on uneven surfaces. With a little extra guidance and walking sticks, she made it across dangling canopy walks in the Amazon, lava flows in the Galapagos, and 500-year-old cobbles in Machu Picchu — you go, girl!
Essential tremors looks a lot like Parkinson’s and is often misdiagnosed as PD. But it has some significant differences: Tremor is the primary symptom, not one of a cluster of symptoms that PD has (e.g., gait, muscle stiffness, as well as tremor). Essential tremors are more widespread across the body than PD tremors. And Essential tremors tend to start young and be much more genetically related. My fellow traveler told me his tremors had started at 10 (although he wasn’t properly diagnosed until 50) and several family members show symptoms, including a granddaughter. He did fine on the trip, even having soup on a rolling boat in the Galapagos!